Transcript for Laird Hamilton On: Flow State, Mastering Fear & Being in the Now

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I’m good maybe I should just stop now

but then your ego or something gets in

the way and then you continue on and

then you’re like you know whack and then

you’re like oh that broke my collarbone

or oh I broke my leg or that’s where we

shine is when we’re humble and we’re

realistic about our position in the

universe but the simplest way to word it

really is be in the now so if there’s no

beginning and no end then there’s just

the now I’m participating me that the

dust me the the insignificant is

actually participating in riding energy

I mean it’s pretty pretty fantastic


what’s up guys Xavier katana here and

wow what an episode with legendary

big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton just a

information-packed episode about being

in high-performance states and we get

into flow state get into performance get

into supplements and just how to keep

your body in this rhythm of being able

to achieve these amazing states so

everything that you want to know from

someone who has been in those states

thousands of times so who you guys enjoy

this one thank you guys so much for the

human experiences in session my guest

for today’s mr. Laird Hamilton Laird my

good sir it’s an honor welcome to the

human experience

well I just want to say thank you very

much for having me and it’s my honor

so Laird I mean you you made such a a

wide-ranging impact on the world of

surfing and you know I’ve studied your

career and I know who you are but for

anyone who might not know who you are

can you just give us a short biography


well I am uh Laird Hamilton and I was a

poor young man in Hawaii rough life I’m

considered to be a Waterman which this

means that you are multi skilled in

disciplines of the ocean and of the

water and you have an understanding of

of its workings and I you know was

raised in Hawaii I had some of the most

rugged dirt breaks in the world and all

the people that I looked up to were were

great Waterman fisherman divers and

surfers and you know and the greatest of

these and the ones that I had the most

respect for were the men that rode the

giant waves and and so that that impact

on my life made me become a rider of

giant waves and always in pursuit of

riding giant waves in through that

process I’ve been involved with

windsurfing and qaida and kind of been

involved in the innovation of kiting of

foil surfing of stand-up paddling of a

technique called tow-in surfing which

allows us to ride some of the biggest

waves in the world and the list keeps

going yeah it’s it’s really profound

this connection that you’ve made with

the ocean it’s not a sense of control

because you’re not controlling the waves

when did you find out that surfing was

going to be this huge thing for you

well I I think I had the fortune to kind

of know when I was very young that I was

gonna do something in surfing or surfing

was gonna do something in me but there

was just you know this connection that I

had with his art in this element so it

started very young I take 3 or 4 years

old you know I mean I think I was a

obnoxious as a young man just I would

run around and first of all I tell

everybody who my stepdad was he was a

you know a great surfer and and and then

I would say I was gonna be great and

they would just be like hey would you

just please shut up yeah you know you

you talk about your own philosophy

regarding fear how do you move through

that how do you move through this sense

of fear when you have this 200 foot wave

coming at you

well I think the relationship that I

have with fear and what fear has enabled

me to do has come over a long period of


I think I’ve developed a relationship

with beer I think I’m growing up I think

it was scared so often that I became

pretty versed at being scared and

through that I think it gave me an

ability to learn how to harness it I

think you know that fear as an energy

source is a very powerful thing and so

the when you have the ability to use

fear as energy it makes you strong it

makes you fast it makes you make really

good decisions it’s it’s it’s something

to respect and appreciate and so you

know again I think I’ve developed a

relationship with beer I’ve learned how

to harness it and use it as a as an

energy source and na it’s brought me


rewards so I just want to feel this with

you because when you’re approaching a

wave of that size or you’re assessing

you know where you’re going to enter and

how you’re gonna logistically plan

riding this wave I mean what’s going

through your mind when you do that

it’s a pretty methodical process it’s

something that you first of all you’re

pulling from years and years and years

of experience you know you’re pulling

from 30 40 50 thousand hours of

experience you’re using all of that data

to help you make the right approach make

the right plan you know the one thing

about the ocean and waves that you kind

of always on guard is that there’s never

two moments that are the same and I

think that my respect in my fear for

these beasts that respect and that fear

forces me into a very consistent

approach yet with always the preparation

that stuff happens and so I always say

there’s only three ways you can go about

doing anything that’s real dangerous and

you know one of them is denial and one

of those ignorant and the other one is

operating within your experience and

most of the time it’s kind of some kind

of combination of all three of those so

you come in kind of experience you have

a little bit of denial and and a little

bit of ignorance or you know however

it’s gonna be but I approach this rule

mathematically and then I use instinct

the guide you know I use instinct as it

as a guide when you know when something

does isn’t right go with that heal that

use that skill that we’ve developed you

know survive yeah so you mean that that

when you feel something wrong you kind

of eject out of that you’re just you

follow that feeling

absolutely yeah well or I go in too high

okay so I all go into a high caution

mode like hey you know what I’m a little

thumbs up I’ll go into high caution and

that served me well and so I hate those

those warnings has there been a time

where you’ve been in that situation and

maybe you didn’t follow that instinct

maybe we didn’t follow that little

warning and you were in a situation

where it got dangerous

well yeah more than once usually it

results I’m sort of injury so I mean you

just got to go hey you know what I’m

good maybe I should just stop now but

then your ego or something gets in the

way and then you continue on and then

you’re like you know whack and then

you’re like oh that broke my collarbone

or oh I broke my leg or you know and you

but yet if you would have defeated those

eternal warnings sooner you wouldn’t you

wouldn’t have you know the unconscious

mind moves at 32,000 times the speed of

the conscious mind which which

technically means that it didn’t almost

you know kind of see the future and so

in a way you know those instincts and

those feelings come from the unconscious

you can develop a relationship with your

conscious mind when you heed those

warnings in those little days of boons

or whatever you want to call them they

come up and crossed over that blank you

know that’s that where you’re able to

start to kind of create a better

connection between that unconscious

warning system survival system that

moves it such a higher rate has the

slower you know cognitive conscious mind

yeah that’s very profound I really like

that a lot

you know I’m sure you are aware of what

flow state is right being in flow you

know is there a process that you use I

mean when you’re in the middle of a pipe

and you’re just you’re riding that wave

what’s happening with time and does time

slow down does it speed up do you feel

like you have more time just everything

kind of move in slow motion how does

that work

well there’s an expansion of time that

occurs when you’re in that moment I mean

you know I describe sometimes the act of

riding a wave

as a place where there is no beginning

and there is no end it just is and you

leave off where you left off and you

start where you you know you left off I

think that there’s something about that

that keeps us coming back for more that

we really desire that state the simplest

way to word it really is be in the now

so if there’s no beginning and no end

then there’s just the now so if the

riding a wave is actually being in the

now yet you’re in movement it’s

something very special this is something

you know very unique about that

sensation that really keeps us coming

back for more I mean we you know design

our lives around this this desire for

this state yes yes definitely

there’s just large aspect of surrender

remember looking at these images of you

on these these massive just walls of

water and you’re just this tiny little

human being and it almost looks like

you’re making these brushstrokes you

know on this this canvas that that is

the ocean the surrender play into this

just letting go of your ego letting go

of those things

well it’s all about submission it’s all

about the render it’s all about being at

the mercy and it’s really it’s when we

are at our best right we’re at our best

when we are humble and proper

perspective of what we really are which

is dust in the wind at the end of the

day that’s where we shine is when we’re

humble and we’re realistic about our

position in the universe where a

particle and a very small part and so

and when you come from that and you go

okay I’m humble I’m submitting and then

you’re able to be in this less humble

more significant situation that’s where

the experience comes in that’s the whole

sensation is like I’m participating me

that the dust me the the insignificant

is actually participating in riding

energy I mean it’s pretty pretty

fantastic yeah I would say so um yeah

that’s such a beautiful way to put it

into perspective and just um you know I

feel like we walk around a lot with our

egos kind of at the front of what we’re

doing and when you’re in a position like

that you get humbled very quick so it’s

it’s difficult to not be in this sort of

humble state forces you to be in this

humble state when you’re facing this

this force of nature coming at you you

created extreme performance training you

co-created this can you tell us a bit

about you know what xbt is and how it


well expertise is a really a

experiencial opportunity for people to

participate in our lifestyle but also be

exposed to some information that has

that impact on our lives and some

fitness technique and nutrition and

breathing and thermal regulation and

some of these things that have had a

profound effect on us you know we have

experts people can come for

two-and-a-half experience and kind of

get a high impact version of our

lifestyle like where they get to come

and you know and and take some stuff

home with them that can have an impact

on the way they live how they live you

know and what they live for and so on

and so it’s a it’s a way for us to share

some of the information that has been

shared with us you know it has a

profound effect that I mean every one of

these xpg experiences that we’ve had

people walk away change and it has that

same impact on us and so we really enjoy

putting them on and every time we put on

one it seems like we we we gain a few

friends I don’t know if we’re gonna

continue to be able to do that but you

know we can never have too many friends

and it’s just great to see people being

open and willing it has a tendency to

pull a really unique group of people

that are really open and interested in

in continuing to evolve as we are

breathing is a big part of x.p team

right which way are we using breathing

consciously to achieve this

high-performance state

we’re first of all we’re just giving

breathing the credence or the respect

that it deserves on the priority of

existence you know you can live for you

know few weeks without eating you can

live for a few days without drinking

water and you can only live a few

minutes without breathing so within that

state then where does breathing Falls it

seems like it Falls is probably the most

important thing that we do and then

there’s a relationship you know with the

spirit and the breath

you know there’s indigenous tribes that

about the spirit of life the breath is

the spirit of life it’s about bringing

consciousness the breath now as far as

the experience goes

I mean we’re gonna do a bunch of

different activities and they’ll be a

multiple opportunities to do some

breathing techniques a the people will

be able to implement into their own

lives into their fitness ultimately the

great thing about XP is that it

continues to evolve so there’s no set

format we know it’s not like we go hey

this is calisthenics and this is what

you do and this is how you do it and

then it’s gonna be you know if you’ve

been to one class you’ve been to a mall

this is something that’s always evolving

and it’s going to continue to evolve as

we learn and and we’re all which

hopefully is indefinitely

yeah very interesting um hilarity I

really want to talk about some of your

personal battles and you know not on the

ocean we all have demons we all have

that that sort of Dark Passenger I mean

it has there been something like that in

your life that you’ve had to sort of

conquer and defeat

there’s a battle of the bowl everyday I

think that in life you know there’s a

South Pole the North Pole you know we’re

like a battery there’s a negative and

the positive and you know what dominates

the majority of your thinking and the

majority of your time spent doing now is

it in the negative as a positive as long

as the positive is more profound or

having a bigger impact than negative

you’re all good you know I’ve been sober

for ten years I I used to love the drink

you know a good Bordeaux I love red wine

at a certain point I just thought you

know nothing’s good it’s coming from

this you know and when we say all the

dumbest things never did when I was

drinking so I’m no better or no

different than any other person I have

all the desires that all people do and I

choose to go the direction I go and

those choices happen to be but on the

majority of the side positive and so you

know I’ve had family stuff growing up

I’ve had relations stuff being grown up

and I’ve had injury stuff and I must say

that I’ve been through all the trials

and tribulations that human can go

through because I haven’t and I’ve been

blessed and saved from a lot of a lot of

grief but I have you know been through

enough stuff to have had an opportunity

to decide what way I wanted to go and

I’m fortunate to be able to say that I

try to continue to always choose the

light you know use the light keep

focusing on the light and what you

occupy your time with and what you

choose will be the thing that dominates

so if you’re negative and it’s all dark

and don’t be surprised you know a lot of

darkness is around you and if you’re

positive and you’re choosing the light

and that will be surprised if a lot of

lights happening

you know there’s certain laws in the

universe and and I’m fortunate to know

this thing called Instant Karma where

usually when I think something bad or do

something bad I pay instantly and has a

tendency to make you learn quicker or

maybe not but you know I choose to take

those as lessons and try to make changes

yeah 100%

agreed with that especially regarding

just alcohol I personally I quit

myself and you know that’s that’s such a

big change this once we start to realize

that alcohol is just a poison for the

body I mean it once you move away from

it for a while you realized how negative

it is for you there was this there was

an interview that you did this article

where you shared your 10-point plan to

live forever you know was there one of

those ten points that kind of struck you

the most there’s one where you talk

about you know forget how old you are

taking care of everyday priorities is

there one of those that kind of

resonates more than the others

I think to retain your youthful

enthusiasm I think that you know that

the key to the Fountain of Youth is to

be a git and to be excited to be

enthusiastic I think as soon as you lose

that you’re dead anyway so I mean have a

certain point if you want to be alive

while you’re alive then be alive and be

excited and be enthusiastic it doesn’t

mean every second don’t be like mister

hey smiley guy I just meant find things

that make you excited be a kid and be

willing to learn and try new stuff and

don’t care what people think of you and

I mean I think that really I mean listen

you got to eat good you gotta have good

relationships got to work out you gotta

be it’s an endless list right it’s not

anyone’s poke that makes the wheel round

it’s all of them right so but but you

said hey you know what’s one of the

dominant spokes you know what’s the hub

you know I mean it says it in the good

book its retain your youthful enthusiasm

and via all the older guys that I know

that are young they’re all enthusiastic

excited you know they’re retaining it

you said something interesting about

choose in this in this conversation that

you’re having or this article that was

published you grew up barefoot in Hawaii


first of all we couldn’t afford shoes

you didn’t want how fuze on in Hawaii

anyway have to tell my loss all my dues

you know I mean when we did wear shoes

they’re only slippers or thongs or

whatever we want to call them but they

weren’t exactly a shoe all the studies

are like hey we should all be barefoot

and something about you know barefoot

definitely connects you to the earth and

you absorb negative ions through being

barefoot and I mean you know our feet

were designed to be you know pretty much

other than maybe a moccasin or something

to keep your feet warm if you lived in

the snow or something but you know your

feet are you know it’s a way to touch

it’s how we touch and so in a way if you

you know if you’re always insulated you

know how smooth is skin when you have a

blow on oh it’s not that smooth

that’s alert I mean what is evolved for

you what does change for you I mean are

you more patient when you’re surfing are

you more patient with it and does that

relate back to your own personal life

it’s almost as if surfing is a type of

philosophy and it teaches you so much

about life

well I mean first of all all the real

lessons I’ve learned the ocean stop I

went to the school of ocean and there

you learn you know the fundamentals of

life you learn humility and discipline

and perseverance and you fear I mean you

learn you want to talk about all the

things you learn and all the important

things you learned they all you know and

every great thing I’ve ever been gifted

to me has come from the ocean and

whether it’s things I’ve done the ocean

that have you know gotten the gifts

bestowed upon me or things I’ve learned

from the ocean that has allowed me to be

able to receive the things that I’ve

been gifted I mean it Cisco it doesn’t

end but I think you know I I don’t

consider myself a very patient person

but you know I had a writer once tell me

he goes you know you know I realize it

surfers are some of the most patient

people in the world I just about fell

out of my chair I was like you obviously

but he said you know but you guys are

willing to wait a lifetime for a moment

and I said olestra I mean and we are and

we are genuinely willing to wait a

lifetime for a moment I mean I would

wait 50 years for an opportunity to to

ride a certain kind of wave and I would

prepare myself for 50 years to be able

to ride that wave and/or be there for

that moment um and yeah I think my

children at this point are teaching me

the other side of patience which is with

all of the small stuff and less

selfishness and more selflessness I

definitely feel like the more you can

take your feelings of accomplishment or

your successes out of the hands of

humans and put them in your own the more

successful you’ll be in a more

accomplished will be you know when

you’re young and aggressive and

Montenegro of yourself you have one out

of two but then when you’re you know a

little more seasoned in a little more

experienced and a little more satisfied

you have to change your approach and

what I’ve learned is that the more I can

continue to control my feeling of

success the more successful I’ll be if I

have the ability to go out

into the ocean and do something that

brings me a feeling of accomplishment

and come back and then bringing that

feeling of accomplishment back to my

house um

the better person I am the better

husband I am the better boyfriend I am

the better father I am a better person I

am and so now I try to pursue that now I

spend a lot of time pursuing that

ability and also to bring that feeling

of success that I’ve I’m learning how to

bestow upon myself yeah that’s such a

profound statement to you know be able

to bring that back what you’ve learned

back into your everyday life because I

mean if you’re this glory Surfrider and

you’re just kind of just riding these

waves but everyone kind of thinks you’re

an asshole I mean what’s the what would

be the point of that right exactly you

know we say we have a sink I did away

it’s not who you are it’s hyung ya know

Melanie one of our listeners submitted

this question she asks when and where

was the best ride of your life

just last week okay

the best fried is the last ride that was

a good ride no I mean you know listen

I’ve had so many phenomenal rides I mean

one of the most famous rides that I’ve

ever had was one in Tahiti when when I

wrote a wave at the time that was said

to be unraidable and impossible I’ve had

incredible rides of my life at a famous

wave called jaws on Maui

there’s a famous stunt man that once

said you know never let your memories be

bigger than your dreams so I don’t dwell

on the past but I think I’ve had so many

incredible ride in my lifetime it’s hard

to say one was better than the other it

was this maybe they’re just been all

been equally great just different and

there’s been too many to even count but

I mean I definitely have had two

monumental moments you know at both in

Maui and Tahiti but I did you know like

I said literally I had a ride last week

that was one of those special ones that

I did you know I think it’s about when

you do something that you’ve never done

I think each time you do that that’s a

monumental want to so I know that wasn’t

the short answer but that’s the only one

I have and no worries you know there’s

there’s such a large philosophy behind

all this and one of the anecdotes that

I’ve heard about surfing is that when

you start to panic like let’s say that

you kind of eat a wave and you’re you

just you crash out and you’re under the

water if you panic in that moment you

only have like 10 to 15 seconds of air

but if you remain calm in that moment

you have up to a minute of air or longer

as a better life yeah so I mean do you

do you find that to be true and you have

you found that to be accurate in your


absolutely I mean I think because I was

in so many heavy situations from such a

young age for so many times you become

very knowledgeable about the liability

of panic and that how panic will will

undermine your ability to survive and so

panicking is a liability and you learn

that quick and there’s a time there’s a

time to go all out and you know and give

it your all at the potential cost of

thing you gain time by slowing down it’s

just the irony of it you know then you

think law if I speed up I’ll gain time

but you gain time by slowing down and

then actually there’s a strange

phenomenon that occurs where when you

have heightened awareness that you

actually can speed up assessment you

know and that actually slows down time

it gives you time else in the time

expands because your assessment has sped

up and I describe it a little bit like

making slow-motion film where they speak

the camera speed the shutter speed up in

order to create emotion well when you

imagine assessment the shutter speed so

the quicker you can see here listen to

that thing and assess the more time that

you’ll gain yeah yeah for sure you know

there there was an element of your

career where you refused to compete

professionally and yet you dominated the

industry why did you refuse to do this

in a professional standard

well the culmination of a couple of

different reasons part of it was because

when I grew up I was exposed to kind of

the injustice of judgment and surfing

and that surfing is really art and it’s

to self-expression and I came from a

generation at which surfing was still

under more of an exploratory stage in

its development it hadn’t been really

corporatized it hadn’t been boxed up yet

and they didn’t have a you know the

whole focus wasn’t on the tour and that

whole thing and it was more like art my

stepdad was a phenomenal surfer I

watched him go through some role of

trials and tribulations with

participating in the structured

competitions and I watched his fate be

determined by other people that were

probably not nearly as good a surfer as

he was but yet there were the so-called

experts and I decided at a young age

that I wouldn’t subject my performances

to those people and you know I played

around when I was little in surfing

competitions because it was fun it was

with the friends you want some some toys

or whatever candy whatever couple

t-shirts or something some fun there was

it and then when money came along and

the whole thing changed it kind of had a

tendency to make me aggressive which I

think I was already naturally too

aggressive I didn’t need a reason to be

more aggressive for me I think that

aggression was distraction from actually

surfing you know I told somebody yeah I

think the reason why I never competed it

was because I’m too competitive

I always thought I’ll go my route which

is if I’m the best surfer in the biggest

and heaviest conditions and that kind of

pretty much takes care of itself I don’t

need to have anybody determine whether

I’m great or not if I think if I’m doing

things no one else is doing or

performing in a way in the in what I

consider the heaviest conditions then

kinda puts me on my own platform and

ultimately people will how do you do

that you know you’re a basketball player

but somehow you’re not playing in the

NBA and I just explained it normally you

know an athlete is sponsored or they get

aid because they’re getting exposure on

they’re on TV every night they’re you

know so the

they get paid because they get seen and

so but I because of the nature of the

things that I was able to do and have

done did that got me a lot of exposure

so I just kind of bypassed the middle

part which is I didn’t need a platform I

was to go directly to the the exposure

side which led to sponsorships and other

things like that I always say I you know

I hate to be told what to do I don’t

want to be told when to go in the water

and when to come in I want to feel it go

when I want to perform how I want to

then I think with that format it allowed

me to maybe do things and perform in a

way that was much more true to myself

and and at the end really allowed me to

go to higher levels of performance and

maybe much higher than I would have ever

ever been able to have I been in a

competitive environment hey guys you

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